Solway see off Whitley and Billingham to make perfect start to NIHL North Cup

Solway Sharks’ head coach Martin Grubb paid tribute to his players after seeing them start their NIHL North Cup campaign with a pair of victories.

The Sharks recorded a 4-2 win over Whitley Warriors on Saturday and followed up with a 9-7 success at Billingham Stars the following day.

Grubb’s side had defeated Whitley in Moralee D1 the previous week and followed up with an impressive victory back on home ice.

“It was an eagerly awaited clash after last weekend and the huge crowd helped create a buzz around the rink and I thought we started really well and fed off the crowd,” he said.

“We scored first and created some good chances in the first period and showed our character again after Whitley equalised.

“The second period we were very good and only a mixture of poor finishing and some good saves stopped us from building a good lead.

“We lost concentration once and were punished and let Whitley back in the game, but we showed our composure and ability to close out a game in the third, and I thought we deserved our win against a good team.”

Solway followed up by collecting another two points in a high-scoring encounter at Billingham the following evening.

Peter Gapa’s hat-trick made it five goals on the weekend for him and left Grubb delighted with his team’s four-point return.

“We started slowly and I think we were guilty of making too many mistakes and not being as solid as against Whitley and were punished for our poor defensive display,” he added.

“We made changes to our line-up and system at the end of the first and I thought we were devastating in the second period with our speed, skill and desire, and to score seven goals in a period will always give you a chance to win.

“We played a bit tired and nervous in the third period, but we did what all good teams do and found a way to see out the game and win. Billingham came at us hard, but we stood strong and that was a great four points over the weekend for the boys.”

(Image permission: Helen Hobbins)